I just finished reading a blog post by a wonderful Christian stay at home mom who always seems to have sage advice on how to raise children. I love her approach to raising kids - spending more time engaging them, less technology, disciplining with love, trusting your gut, basically just good old-fashioned parenting.
But...you knew there was a but coming, right?
I tend to feel really sad after reading posts by stay at home moms when they push just how important it is to be a stay at home mom. I don't think they do it to be hurtful, I think they are trying to get across the importance of their work, and the role of being a mom. It's just that when you can't stay at home with your kids every day, and you want to, it's always like a sword to the heart. Like if somehow I loved my kids better, then money would magically fall from the sky and I could stop working, do the right thing and stay home.
I know many parents struggle and sacrifice so that one parent, usually the mom, can stay at home and raise the kids. They are able to make it work because it's important to them. We tried that for a few years until we literally couldn't pay the bills no matter how simply we lived our lives, and we had to change something. I had to start working. First part-time, but as more children came, and with that more expenses, I eventually had to work full-time. I think there are a lot of mothers in my situation who feel the calling to be a stay at home mom but realistically can't make it happen. So hearing the importance and selflessness of the role of a SAHM only makes us feel really sad, like we are failing our kids. Like if we just planned better and sacrificed more than we too would be able to see the importance of family and raising children. I don't need that lesson. I already know it, and I love my kids enough to do anything for them. For me, that means working outside the home.
I don't really write about working. Simply because it's not professional and I don't want to lose my job, but mostly because my job doesn't define who I am. It's a means to an end. I like my job and I am thankful for it, but if I didn't need to be here I wouldn't be. What defines me, what I'm passionate about, are my husband and kids. They are the meaning of my life. I don't need to have more mom guilt over not being with my 2 year old and 6 month old every day. I need someone to tell me it's OK.
So for you working moms out there who put your family first so much that you have to leave home to work to provide for them...it's OK. You're doing great. You are loving your family through your actions and teaching them what it means to sacrifice your time and talents in order to create a good life. You are giving enough to your kids, you do love them enough, and the good Lord knows where your heart is. You are showing your children that moms can do anything, moms can be highly educated and choose which path they want to follow - staying at home or having a career. You are also showing them that one person can't do it all, no matter where they work, and it takes the whole family to pitch in to make a household run smoothly. There's no maid, chauffeur, or cook here. There's just us, serving one another. Family is teamwork.
I think all of us moms who are trying our best to raise our kids are doing an amazing job. No matter where you spend most of your waking hours, and no matter what you have to do to help your family thrive. There's no need to elevate the role of one mom while putting down the others whose roles look different. I applaud you SAHMs and you WOHMs and I don't want anyone to feel guilty for making those tough choices. I tend to be sensitive to this particular subject because my heart's in one place and my head's in another, so sorry if this came off a little emotionally charged. How about a funny meme we can all agree on....